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Posts Tagged ‘making choices’

Here’s yet another story of someone who knows how to dream bigger. Simon Beck found that he was no longer able to run because of problems with his feet. He still wanted a way to get regular exercise. Now you or I might choose to go to a gym or take up swimming. Not Simon.

He decided to start snowshoeing and … create enormous geometric patterns in the snow near Savoie, France. These patterns (some resembling giant snowflakes) cover the equivalent of three soccer fields. He plods along for 5-9 hours a day, and has to start all over when there’s a fresh snowfall.

One man’s need for exercise results in spectacular beauty for the world to enjoy. Imagine that!

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I was reading a book lately and came across a question that helped me shift my perspective. Like many people, I tend to take life too seriously. I get caught up in stress and worry about money and deadlines. I find myself trying to squeeze just a few more hours into the work day. And when something happens to change my plans, it can throw my whole day off.

Then I saw this question.

“Will it matter a year from now?”

Such a simple question. Yet each time I say it, I pause.

A year is a long time. It’s made up of 365 days. Each day has 24 hours.

Will this stressful situation matter 8760 hours from now? I doubt it very much. In fact, I probably won’t even remember it in a week, let alone a year from now.

Sure, some of the decisions I make now will have an impact on what I’m doing in a year’s time. Since that’s true, I’d better make sure that those decisions are based on what brings me joy rather than worry.

So how can I take this situation and shift it?

First, by realizing that it’s not as important or serious as I might think initially.

Second, by asking myself, what is needed to bring more joy into this moment?

And then taking action based on that.

It’s all about living with joy and ease – the Dream Bigger life.

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In my last post, I wrote about the dilemma faced by Peter Brother after his bike was stolen in Peru. Suddenly his dream of cycling from the Yukon in northern Canada to the southern tip of Argentina came crashing down around him. He had managed to complete two-thirds of his journey, and now had no bike to finish what he had started.

It’s a good example of what can happen as we pursue a dream. Sometimes life gets in the way. Circumstances beyond our control pull the rug out from under out feet, and we’re left dazed and confused, asking why. And wondering what to do next.

At first, Peter was shocked. He spent a few days trying to come to terms with this change in his plans. Then he decided to see if he could get a bike built to meet his needs in Peru. He also explored the possibility of having a new bike, identical to the specialized one he had bought for his trip, shipped to him from Canada.

Neither option worked out.

At that point, he could have give up. So close to achieving his dream, and yet so far.

Instead, he decided to revamp the dream. He realized that he still wanted to go to Chile and Argentina. He wanted to continue the journey. However, now he would do it by bus. He felt it would give him plenty of opportunity to meet people, and to do some hiking.

So, for the past few weeks, he has been hiking in the mountains and the desert, exploring caves and glacial lakes. He will also be trekking to the world’s largest canyon in Peru, the Lake district in Argentina, Patagonia in Chile and a number of other locations.

His dream continues to evolve. In a recent post, he wrote,

“While in Hauraz, I had a couple of significant dreams, that seemed to me to indicate I want to continue cycling for part of the journey through Chile and Argentina. I am now rethinking about biking.  I will go by bus to Nazca and Arequipa in Peru and then bus it to Santiago.  Then I may pick up a “new” bike there.  Then go to Mendoza, down to the Lake District and cross back and forth between Argentina & Chile, biking and hiking.”

It’s important to be flexible and open while following your dream, yet keep in mind your focus, the main reason you started on the journey in the first place. In this way, you’ll stay open to possibilities and … those possibilities are endless!

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Last week, I had the chance to see the salmon run in a river in Owen Sound, Ontario. I’d only read about it or seen it on television before. We hiked down to the river, not knowing the salmon were running, and when we reached the water, it was full of their long dark bodies, all heading upstream.

Salmon pausing between leaps

It was mesmerizing and, at times, frustrating to watch.

They seemed to line up like cars on a major highway stuck in a traffic jam, biding their time until it was their turn to make the leap up the next rapids. We watched them push ahead, jump and often slide back down into the pool below. Others would make it and slither across the surface of the rocks, slapping their tails feverishly as they tried to make it to deeper water ahead.

It was such hard work, leaping against the churning water, not knowing how high to go or what lay beyond the next rise.

And still they came. As far as the eye could see downstream, there were fins moving toward us through the water. And upstream, plunging on further ahead.

It was exciting and exhausting to watch. I wanted to reach down and lift them up to the next pool, anything to ease their struggle.

I kept wondering why nature has designed them to fight against the current when going downstream would be so much easier. Their instinctual drive is so strong that there really is no other option.

Watching them caused me to reflect on my own patterns. In what ways am I trying to go upstream, against the current, in my life and work? Is the struggle necessary, or do I have a choice?

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I have this voice in my head that loves to comment on everything I say and do. The Voice considers itself to be the authority on my life, my choices and decisions. It’s always quick to remind me of what I can’t do (based on past experience) and to warn me of the risks (real or imagined) of trying something new.

It can be so convincing that, in moments of doubt and fear, my knees buckle and I surrender because it sounds like the Voice of Reason.

Maybe you know what I mean.

I have learned, however, that the Voice really doesn’t know what it’s talking about. It’s my mind trying to direct the show. All of its actions are based on what it thinks it knows (previous experience, opinions, need to survive). That’s usually not a complete picture. What it’s telling me is my Old Story.

The Old Story is how I’ve been in the past (how I’ve always been, according to the Voice). It’s a reminder of all the challenges I’ve faced, how hard my life has been, and how much I’ve struggled to survive (cue the violins). The Old Story suggests that nothing will ever change because this is who I am.

Not true.

I am not my story. I am the author of my story and, therefore, I can change the plot, add new characters, and give the lead character a shift in perspective.

In the Old Story, I say “no” to suggestions without even asking any questions. I worry about everything. I can’t do a lot of things (particularly things I’ve never tried before). I anticipate problems and challenges, and if something doesn’t work out, I won’t try again.

In my New Story, I dare to try new things. Just because. I’m curious about everything. I look for the gift in a challenge, the possibility in the problem. If something doesn’t work out, I know there’s something even better around the next corner. I dance more. I laugh more. Life is a lot more fun!

Each day I get a chance to choose which story to live. It’s a conscious choice that each one of us can make.

Which one will you choose today?

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As children head back to school, September is a great month for all of us to look at how we’re doing in terms of the goals we set for ourselves this year. Are you where you hoped to be by this point in 2012? If you were to set new goals, where would you like to be by December?

This is your opportunity to end the year on a positive note. Here are a few basic tips to help you get there.

  1. Prioritize one or two areas that you’d like to focus on in the next three months. Why are these areas important to you? What will improving these areas bring into your life?
  2. Set achievable goals. Be specific about what you intend to achieve and set a deadline (December 1, Christmas, December 31).
  3. Create an action plan. Look at your goals and make a list of steps you can take to get there. Break the list down into steps you’ll take each week.
  4. Include some fun time in your plan. If you’re going to work hard at achieving your goals, make sure you have some fun along the way.
  5. Ask for support from a friend, family member or colleague. Be sure to choose someone who is truly supportive and will provide positive reinforcement of your plans.
  6. Get started! Pick one step you can take today. Each day take another step. Track your progress and celebrate each mini-goal that you reach and pass.

Believe that you can make positive changes in your life and then, just do it!

*****

I’ll be discussing this in more detail on KW Magazine with John Maciel on CKWR FM 98.5 on Wednesday, September 12 at 6:30 p.m. (EDT). Do listen in!

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“Until he extends his circle of compassion to include all living things,

man will not himself find peace.”

~ Albert Schweitzer

It’s not easy to feel compassion toward all living things, is it? Think about that obnoxious neighbour who plays loud music at 2 a.m. Or the work colleague who always copies your ideas and promotes them as his own. Then there’s the woman in your book group who criticizes you every time you open your mouth.

Compassion goes out the window pretty quickly in those moments, doesn’t it?

Inside, you feel anger, rage, frustration and sometimes a sense of helplessness. You want to lash out and retaliate, blame someone, get revenge. You’re certainly not at peace with yourself or with the situation.

It’s a lot easier to feel compassionate toward someone who is seriously ill or who has just gone through unexpected difficulties. They’ve got a lot on their plate so we give them extra slack. It’s also easy to feel compassion toward children who makes a mistake. After all, they’re just learning.

What if we’re all “just learning”? That is what life is about, right? Learning by trying things and making mistakes along the way. And we all have a lot on our plate.

The next time someone says or does something that causes you to react, remind yourself that they’re human, just like you. And, just like you, they’re still learning. Take whatever steps you need to in order to feel safe and protected, and then ask yourself, “How can I respond in a way that will bring peace to me and to the situation?”

Some actions are caused by a lack of awareness or misinformation. Others by a deep insecurity or need for approval. Some people are so busy trying to survive that they have forgotten how to live.

You have the opportunity to be like the sun, bringing light and warmth into every relationship you encounter today. The sun doesn’t choose who to shine upon. The sun shines its light on everyone and everything equally. So can we all.

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